In Africa, time is different.

Readers…

As I sit in my cozy office, I look out the window & sneak a peek at the hills Southern Californian’s call, mountains. They are beautiful, snuggled up against a sparkling blue sky. The breeze coming in is quite & calm. In fact, the only sounds are birds…It’s as if I woke up from a long restless and fulfilling sleep, dreaming of Africa.

I am swiftly reminded that the place in my dreams is truly a world away. I close my eyes and their faces show bright, the smells and the gritty dirt between my toes comes alive. I am there. And so, this is what it took for my hands to caress this keyboard, firm enough to form these sentences.

Ready...set...GO!

Easter left our hearts beaming, the staff’s bellies satisfied & the children’s natural desire for curiosity & wonder temporarily fulfilled. The day passed all too effortlessly and the Easter egg hunt was a definite hit. We let the children go in waves, making sure that the little ones had a chance. Some children took to army crawling in search of the egg, others felt defeated at this new game, but not for long. It was a joyful time, with no tears and more smiles than my camera could capture. For us, the goodbye was creeping around the corner until it was finally impossible to genuinely smile. In our last hour the children gathered around to read a letter from their new friend, Setra. They looked on with wide eyes and their imaginations painting colorful pictures, for all to see. Setra described where she lived, what her favorite things to do were and the children boldly raised their hands to share their favorite things too. They even got to see pictures that were drawn for them, as they proudly named what was in them, tears started to well in my eyes. They were excited about their new friend and didn’t quite understand what was about to happen.

Webare Munonga, Setra!

Nursery school teacher, Caleb explained it was time for Jas-mine & Cathy to go home on a big airplane to be with Jared & Ramon. All of the children, but one was fascinated. Shalom Beauty tugged at my legs in a playful manner, as a baby does before she ran off to her nap, not understanding for one second the tears in my eyes. Her innocence and unconditional love made my heart burst & hugs from each of the children brought me unexpected comfort. I think Mom was stronger, though I can’t be sure, as I didn’t take my eyes off the children. We stayed for a bit, waiting for Rogers to come get us, chatting with the staff and older children. Smiles and laughter were mixed with tears and questions.Denike grabbed Mom, desperate to leave her with something to remember her and a song in her ear. Time was in slow motion, yet where had it all gone? Had we really been here for over five weeks, it didn’t feel that way.

Denike & "Mukaaka"

It was our sweet Blessing that reminded us we really had spent all those days there. Her humble smile faded, as sadness shaded her bright light. She understood what was happening; she has had to do this before, more than most nine year olds. How could I comfort her, she understands.

Minutes before we were to leave I pulled her around the corner and in my broken Rukiga and her effort to understand English I told her that although we are far away from each other, you will always be in my heart and I will always be in yours. At first, she was confused, then she touched her heart and I squeezed her, as if to take a drop of her with me, never to evaporate, always to remain. Mom shared a beautiful goodbye with her as well and we were off. As Rogers stopped the car I got out and looked back, everyone was standing there watching…ugh. I raised both of my hands and said “we love you, we will miss you” and just as a music conductor is in sync with the instruments, everyone threw up their hands for a final goodbye, waving us off. I passed a tissue back to Mom and we drove away. Happy, changed, sad, full, empty.

Jas-mine & Blessing

There was much silence between us in the coming days, before our departure out of Kigali, Rwanda. For me, I was trying to understand it all. It’s just too BIG. As we drove to the airport the sun set on that beautiful city, lighting up the sky with a shade of pink only Africa knows. Though it wasn’t until we boarded the plane on the runway did I realize our trip had come to an end. For the last time, I breathed in that smell that welcomed me and changed my life over a year ago. Then, I didn’t know what it was; now I knew vividly. Burning charcoal in the homes of everyday people will forever define this place. This place where time stands still and goes by, fleeting and harsh. This place that gave my family new memories. This place that made me love my husband deeper than before, this place where I saw my Dad in his youthful element, this place where I watched my Mom with wonder in her eyes and this place that helped me discover myself in a way only this land can. This place, called Africa.

JACARA+1 travels to Africa!

Thank you for your unwavering support and willingness to join our journey from afar. It’s been an adventure, surely one never to be forgotten. We set off to change the lives of others, and we’re the ones that return, forever changed. Life is uncertain, time is odd, but it is human connection that trumps all. JACARA will continue giving back, whether big or small, we hope you will join us.

Webare Munonga!

JAsmineCAthyRAmon

 

 

To make a greater difference; JACARA will donate 10% of ALL profits earned to *Keirungi Children’s Village!
*JACARA has no religious affiliation to Keirungi’s Children’s Village